Coming up with a Value Statement (from HHT Session)

Morris Jumel Mansion

Morris Jumel Mansion: George Washington really did sleep here

The workshop presenters, Susan Schear of Artisin and Elizabeth Wagner of JC Geever, talked about mission, vision, and values as very important to strategic planning.

They talked about coming up with a value statement (also called “motto,” “catch phrase,” or ” tag line”). What does your organization stand for? In our case, what does the Conference House stand for? I came up with, “The Conference House helps us understand what it’s like to be on the losing side.” Kirsten’s was better: “The Conference House demonstrates the importance of community dialogue even in the face of unfavorable odds.”

  • Having a catch-phrase makes it easy to keep everyone on the same track. Examples: Colonial Williamsburg has “That the Future May Learn from the Past,” YMCA has “We build strong kids, strong families, strong communities.” Morris Jumel Mansion: “George Washington really did sleep here.”
  • Everyone associated with us are our ambassadors—our board, our staff, our volunteers, the organizations we work with like, in our case, the South Shore Artists Group, Staten Island Herb Society, the Fishermen’s Conservation Association, the people who walk dogs in the park, our members, etc. Everyone needs to be sending the same message.
  • They suggested a motto contest: The winner receives a membership or some other small item as a reward. Or we can set up a survey on our website, with a list of possible mottoes and check-offs: “Which do you like best?”

“Fire people up so that they’re talking about your programs,” the presenters said. Find your success stories and repeat them whenever and wherever possible. Encourage your docents and members to bring the stories they hear back to the office.


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